Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
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Applied Geosciences and Environmental Management (AGEM) Program

The EVS Applied Geosciences and Environmental Management (AGEM) program improves methods for characterizing and restoring environmental sites contaminated with carbon tetrachloride.

For decades, the EVS Applied Geosciences and Environmental Management program has been improving methods for characterizing and restoring environmental sites contaminated with carbon tetrachloride. A key to our streamlined site characterization process is extensive use of cone penetrometer technology, with customized sampling and drilling tools, to minimize intrusiveness and the amount of hazardous waste generated. We have also improved analytical methods so that we can rapidly detect lower concentrations of contaminants and have developed methods for integrating accumulating results to direct the next steps of our investigations.

Argonne's cone penetrometer vehicles work side by side at a contaminated environmental site in Kansas. The 40-ton unit at left is mounted on a Mack truck. The 22-ton track-mounted crawler unit at right was customized for environmental work by the firm A.P. van den Berg of The Netherlands.
Argonne's cone penetrometer vehicles work side by side at a contaminated environmental site in Kansas. The 40-ton unit at left is mounted on a Mack truck. The 22-ton track-mounted crawler unit at right was customized for environmental work by the firm A.P. van den Berg of The Netherlands. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Our remediation goal is to clean up soil and groundwater by using site-appropriate, efficient technologies that ultimately minimize emissions and incorporate beneficial reuse of resources. We have applied a number of emerging treatment technologies where site conditions are appropriate. The innovative methods used include spray irrigation treatment of extracted groundwater; a large-scale groundwater treatment system integrating phytoremediation, engineered wetlands, and spray irrigation; a combined soil vapor extraction-air sparging system in large-diameter boreholes; and enhanced biodegradation in the vadose zone via subsurface injection of zero-valent iron.

Extensive monitoring of our remediation projects has generated a body of data to support detailed evaluations of the technologies. Our life-cycle cost analyses, projected over 15 years of treatment, demonstrate significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions, energy, and monetary costs. These savings are realized by eliminating processes, materials, wastes, and operating time. Moreover, the “green” technologies have resulted in reuse of contaminated water and soil, enhancement of wildlife habitats, and wetlands restoration, in addition to site cleanup.

Engineered wetlands are the final component of a large groundwater restoration project in Nebraska. Earlier stages in the integrated treatment sequence are spray irrigation of extracted groundwater and phytoremediation. The carbon tetrachloride concentration in the water discharged from the wetlands is consistently below the regulatory level for drinking water.
Engineered wetlands are the final component of a large groundwater restoration project in Nebraska. Earlier stages in the integrated treatment sequence are spray irrigation of extracted groundwater and phytoremediation. The carbon tetrachloride concentration in the water discharged from the wetlands is consistently below the regulatory level for drinking water. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Our work in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri is supported by the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have characterized scores of former federal grain storage facilities where carbon tetrachloride was used as a pesticide and have implemented successful remediation projects at many of these sites.

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photo of Lorraine LaFreniere
Principal Geological Engineer/Team Lead
Capabilities: Application of geology/hydrogeology and cone penetrometer (CPT) technology in hazardous waste investigations and remediation; expertise in field geology, Quaternary glaciofluvial and glaciolacustrine stratigraphy, petroleum exploration and development (carbonate reservoirs).